Sri Lanka & MCC: US Think Tank Alerts 'Land Grab' by Private Sector

July 22, 2020
Source
Asian Tribune

By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune US National Correspondent

Washington, D.C. 22 July (Asiantribune.com): The compact between Sri Lanka and the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) could potentially shift millions of hectares of land into private control, says a specialized report done by California-based think tank Oakland Institute gives a warning signal.

The Oakland Institute's mission is to "increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical socio-economic issues in both (US) national and international forums. It is an independent policy think tank working to increase public participation and fair debate on critical social, economic, and environmental issues.

In its report, released last week, further notes “While the outgoing cabinet approved the MCC compact in October 2019, the new President Rajapaksa, who promised to discard the MCC compact during his campaign, has changed his stance upon winning the election. Under US pressure, the government announced that a sub-committee had been appointed to revisit and review the MCC compact at the end of 2019. The committee is expected to release its recommendations on whether to approve the compact at the end of June 2020”.

In fact, the committee released its report and President Gotabahaya Rajapaksa has asked each cabinet member to review it and give their opinion. Meanwhile the American Ambassador Alaina Teplitz recently stated that the MCC Compact will be ratified by Sri Lanka’s parliament after the (August 5) elections.

The report further notes “Civil society has denounced the proposed compact and pressured the Sri Lankan government to reject it. Summarizing these concerns, the Alliance for Economic Democracy (AED) submitted a formal rejection of the compact in a letter endorsed by 53 civil society groups, academics, and local leaders. The AED warns that the Land Project will not address poverty and instead result in “land grabs by creditors, the transfer of prime land to multinational corporations, [and] the loss of livelihoods for local farmers”.

Civil society has denounced the proposed compact and pressured the Sri Lankan government to reject it. Summarizing these concerns, the Alliance for Economic Democracy (AED) submitted a formal rejection of the compact in a letter endorsed by 53 civil society groups, academics, and local leaders. The AED warns that the Land Project will not address poverty and instead result in “land grabs by creditors, the transfer of prime land to multinational corporations, [and] the loss of livelihoods for local farmers.